Let’s be clear, people are the main investment your business will make. Time is money, after all. So it’s essential that your customer service staff are not wasting their time. Once you’ve got fast internet provision in place, the next way to optimize staff time is speedy communication tools. That’s where canned responses come in.
Did you know the average American has a typing speed of just 40 words per minute? That’s pretty darn slow.
Add on time for reading the customer’s query, reflecting on the possible answers, choosing the best way to phrase a response, checking the company style guide for guidance on tone and mannerism… It’s probably already time for lunch before all is said and done with even the first few customers of the day. Listen carefully and you will hear the tragic din of finance managers tearing their hair out while lost revenue sloshes directly down the drain.
However, all is not lost. Once again, modern technology swoops in to save the day (and your finance manager’s hair). What is cloud communication for if not to effortlessly streamline both B2B and B2C messaging? Get the most out of your CX budget and snap up extra revenue with some ready-made remarks for SMS, webchat, and email marketing.
Behold, the canned response.
Let’s define exactly what we mean here; a canned response is a carefully crafted phrase or two that a CX representative can whip out via live chat, over the phone, or through email when communicating with customers. For instance, VoiceSage will send out automated service outage SMS notifications on behalf of clients, nipping potential client furore in the bud.
It’s no secret that COVID-19 lit the touchpaper for increased automation across sectors, not least of all in customer satisfaction. If you’re not using canned responses – best deployed in tandem with natural conversation – your company is sitting in the dark ages. In fact, McKinsey found three-quarters of executives plan to increase investment in automation between 2020 and 2024. There’s no better place to hop on this trend than automation of CX communications.
A few obvious benefits to this strategy include uniformity of tone no matter which staff person responds to queries, quicker response times leading to shorter waiting periods for customers, and less dependency on staff ability to recall complex details of company service provision.
Granted, crafting your best CX snippets requires a little creative talent in order to effectively boost conversion rates. But never fear, with this handy guide you’ll be a canned response expert in no time.
So, grab onto your ring pull and peel back that lid: we’re getting under the “tin” of canned responses.
Canned responses need to do two things: discover your customer and deliver information. First and foremost, the scripted snippets need to quickly establish who the customer is, so a good opener could be: “Are you new around here or do you already have an account with us?”. Simplicity is the key. In this example, the either/or option seamlessly invites the client to engage in a non-confrontational way.
Conversational openers such as “Welcome, are you looking for something specific today?” and “I’m so sorry to hear your parcel has not been delivered” are sure-fire ways to put your customer at ease. Notice the kindness and empathy in the language here: “welcome” and “sorry to hear” make it clear that your company values two-way communication. Just because a response is pre-written doesn’t mean it has to sound unfeeling.
In fact, customers that feel respected, valued, and listened to are more likely to remain loyal and recommend their friends, both of which lead to higher revenue. Breakthrough research has revealed companies with consistently high customer satisfaction grow revenues roughly 2.5 times as fast as their industry peers. So go for warmth, sympathy, and understanding in your pre-written remarks.
Each reply needs to accurately address the concern of your visitor in question. In order to nail that conversion metric, you will need to consider the most frequent pain points of your clientele. Ask yourself, what is it my clients really need to hear in order to allay their concerns?
Chances are, a long-term customer already knows the basics, so leave out any lengthy explanations of company history, geography, news, awards, the CEO’s favourite sports team… you get the picture. More than likely your customer is already in a hurry, so beware of information overload and keep the first five messages under 30 words.
Once the initial query has been established, there could well be scope for scripting longer answers such as the steps of a troubleshooting process. The idea is to mimic a natural conversation, so there is no need to shy away from lengthier explanations when the need arises. As long as your script is simply worded, grammatically correct, and easy to follow, then feel free to go into detail on product or service descriptions that can add value to the visitor.
Moreover, a great way to entice extra revenue with a canned response is to suggest related products to your customer’s initial query. Indeed, two in five online consumers say personalization is a basic requirement for online shopping experiences with almost two-thirds keen to make another purchase if they have a personalized experience.
For example, VoiceSage’s Rich Media Messaging (RMM) enables companies to easily send personalized coupons directly to customers’ phones. CX methods like this are sure to boost conversion.
By now you’ve got a decent picture of what a canned response is in a broad sense. Now let’s consider a few common pitfalls to using them.
Every message to your customer needs to communicate relevant information in as few words as possible. Bad canned responses, therefore, leave your customer hanging around in an information desert. Ensure you properly road-test any new AI, chatbot, or voice recognition service, bearing in mind that more than two in five customers are at least somewhat likely to switch brands after only a single negative customer service interaction.
Actually, one of the worst canned responses is no response at all. Remember, the online conversation needs to reflect an in person interaction; if someone asks a question, it’s only natural that they hear some kind of response in return! Instead of radio silence or a basic “OK”, ensure your customer knows their question has been heard and the answer is coming shortly.
Consider the following example:
Customer: Your engineer is 20 minutes late, what’s going on?
IT Services: Nobody is here to take your message right now. Try again later.
This response from IT Services is likely to do more harm than good for several (hopefully obvious) reasons. The canned response is emotionless, unhelpful, and likely to increase the customer’s frustration.
Not only is the customer annoyed with the late engineer, but now she meets a brick wall when reaching out to the company for help. It’s a double whammy of bad customer service with the potential for widespread damage to future revenue and zero chance of conversion to future custom.
Done right, an effective canned response is a chance to speedily resolve issues, cross-sell, and even gain fresh consumer feedback. We’ve already had a think about timing, tone, and clarity.
Now let’s turn our attention to four main categories of response and some examples:
“Glad to have you here, can I help you today?”
“Welcome! Let me know if you need anything”
“Hi there, are you looking for something specific?”
“Howdy. Do you have a question for me?”
“I understand your frustration, let me look into that right now.”
“So sorry to hear you’re having difficulty with _______.”
“That’s disappointing to hear, I’ll try to fix that right away.”
“I apologize that our service has fallen short this time.”
Asking for detail
“Could you let me know which ________ you’re having issues with?”
“Can you describe what happened when you tried _________ ?”
“Would you happen to have your order/reference/account number to hand?”
“When did you expect ________ delivered?”
“How long have you experienced problems with ________?”
“If I could send out a new one by tomorrow, would that resolve your query?”
“Have I fully resolved the issues you’re experiencing?”
“Is there anything else I can help you with?”
“May I ask you to describe your support experience today in three words?”
“Is there anything else you’d like to let me know about your experience with us?”
Take a look through these template responses and edit them according to the style of your specific brand.
Of course, troubleshooting options will vary according to the capability of your company. However, the best automated chat service will link together with multiple channels, including SMS notification, email reminder, VoIP call, and multimedia such as video and interactive guides. This is much simpler than it seems, with ‘unified communications as a service’ (UCaaS) now the leading way to streamline formerly awkward off-shoots of business comms.
Remember to give your customer ample opportunity to express their needs: ensure empathy in every line, offer multiple choices where possible, and link up adjacent streams of communication.
Once urgent problems have been resolved, utilize any and all analytics you have on the customer to direct them to relevant products and services. Do this near the end of the interaction, after offering to help with additional queries and before requesting feedback.
Furthermore, everyone loves a discount and an exclusive offer is likely to calm tensions if the client shows signs of irritation or anger. There’s never been a more crucial time to foster customer loyalty, so a strong canned response strategy is now essential.
Jessica Day – Senior Director, Marketing Strategy, Dialpad, a modern business communications platform that takes every kind of conversation to the next level—turning conversations into opportunities. Jessica is an expert in collaborating with multifunctional teams to execute and optimize marketing efforts, for both company and client campaigns.
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